Declining adherence to core beliefs of Christian faith among Preteens in record numbers, study finds

Survey Reveals Parents’ Views Contradicting Their Professed Faith In Christ Turning Kids Away From Christianity
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A recent study by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University raises alarm for Christianity in the US, pointing to a decline in biblical worldview adoption among preteens in record numbers. “Five beliefs central to the Christian faith are being widely rejected by children in the 8-to-12 age range.”

Only 36% of preteens believe that “Jesus Christ is the only way to experience eternal salvation,

based on confessing your sins and relying only upon His forgiveness of your sins,” compared to 54% of children’s ministers and 34% of parents.

Similarly, just 25% see that “the Bible is the true words of God that should be a guide to

knowing right from wrong, and living a good life,” while 62% of pastors and 44% of parents agreed. 

Only 21% of preteens believe in absolute truths, compared to 42% of ministers and 33% of parents believing so. And less than one-third said that their “main reason to live is to know, love and serve God, with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength,” in contrast to the 56% of ministers who said the same.

Merely 17% of preteens agreed with the belief that "Real success in life is consistently obeying God," in contrast to 42% of children's ministers who endorsed this belief.

The study indicated that the children in America are not getting sufficient exposure to the Bible. Presently, only “60% have read any part of it”, and only half believe it provides guidance on leading a good life. Just 26% consistently refer to the Bible when making moral decisions and an even smaller percentage (21%) consider it the most effective tool for distinguishing right from wrong.

Approximately one-third of preteens (36%) believe that the pathway to “eternal salvation” involves “confessing sins and asking Jesus Christ” for redemption, a percentage similar to that of adults (35%). Interestingly, preteens exhibit a higher inclination towards acknowledging “Jesus as the only means to eternal life” compared to teenagers (21%). And this “raises the probability that the current percentage will decline as today’s preteens age—unless there is a concerted effort to prevent such a drop,” the study read.

The research attributes this trend to adults, including parents and pastors, not strongly adhering to a biblical worldview themselves. The study alarmingly reports only 2% of preteens and 12% of pastors holding a biblical worldview.

Reacting to the findings, George Barna, the center's director, emphasizes the urgency of addressing this "existential challenge." He highlights the potential "Christian invisibility" if the church doesn't "fix what's broken" regarding worldview transmission.

“Children are intellectual and spiritual sponges in their preteen years. They are desperately trying to make sense of the world, their identity, their purpose, and how to live a meaningful and satisfying life,” he stated.

“Parents, in particular, have a duty to focus on and invest in the development of their child’s worldview, which is simply their decision-making filter for life. If parents do not fill that vacuum, other sources—such as the media, the schools, and even the child’s peers—will influence that worldview construction,” he continued.

“The child’s worldview will inevitably develop. The critical questions are who will shape it and what worldviews will be most forcefully and consistently proposed.”

The worldview development of children is the existential challenge facing the American Church today,” Barna concluded.